I was reading to Rob this afternoon: not this blog, not the comments on Facebook, not the weird text from a former client, and not the ingredients in the ramen noodle spice pack I found in the back of a drawer. I was reading what I wrote today in my story — still titled Accidental Gravitas — though hoping for late-night inspiration to re-title it to something I like better.
Anyhow, about 1,600 hundred words into his listening, he points out that Arman (one of the main characters whose legal matters are a large component of the story as a whole) is “not Iraqi.” Rob made the point after I read to him the basis behind Arman’s immigration to the US being rooted in Arman’s claim of being “Iraqi.”
So, 38K words into a story where Arman has to be Iranian, I have an entire thread of his story based in my misreading of an immigration policy which applies only to Afghanis and Iraqis. (In my defense, “Iran” and “Iraq” differ by one measly letter and happen to border each other “over there, on the other side of the planet.”)
All right, I can’t eviscerate my story and make him Iraqi to fit with the immigration policy and I can’t create an immigration policy that does not exist. (Well, I probably could do the latter, but I won’t.)
So, what’s a writer to do?
Apply an adhesive bandage and hope it sticks.
You see, when I learned that I’d made a mistake, I passed it off onto my characters. My protagonist, Mitch, immediately questioned why Arman was being “dishonest” and his coworker, Tanya, made the point that “in that part of the world, tribes cross over national borders.”
By the time Mitch and Tanya get around to asking Arman about the discrepancy, I will have done some more research and should be able to come up a plausible explanation as to how an Iranian managed to use an immigration policy intended for non-Iranians.
It makes living in the world of fiction a pleasant place to be. Cognitive dissonance is not applicable in the real world the way it is in the words on a screen.
Being part of that very real non-reality is pretty cool.